News / Middle East

Libya Adjourns Trial of ex-Gadhafi Officials and Sons

Officials of Moammar Gadhafi's government, including Abdullah al-Senussi (L), ex-spy chief in Moammar Gadhafi's government and Buzeid Dorda (2nd L), ex-intelligence chief, sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, April 14, 2014.
Officials of Moammar Gadhafi's government, including Abdullah al-Senussi (L), ex-spy chief in Moammar Gadhafi's government and Buzeid Dorda (2nd L), ex-intelligence chief, sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, April 14, 2014.
Reuters
Libya opened the trial of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi's sons and dozens of his ex-officials on Monday in a test of its transition to democracy, but it was quickly adjourned as some of the investigations had not been completed.

Neither son, Saadi Gadhafi and Saif al-Islam, was in court at Tripoli's Al-Hadba prison, but the late ruler's spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi was among the former senior aides sitting in blue jumpsuits behind a fenced-off section.

The defendants face charges ranging from corruption to war crimes related to deaths during the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi, who went on the run for months before being captured and quickly killed by rebels.

If convicted, some of them could face the death penalty.

The North African OPEC member has struggled to establish basic institutions and the rule of law as Gadhafi left behind a shell of a government after absorbing all the power into his own hands during his four-decade rule.

The International Criminal Court and other human rights organizations worry about the fairness of Libya's justice system although the government won the right last year to try Gadhafi's former spy chief at home instead of at the ICC in The Hague.

Saadi Gadhafi, known as a playboy with a brief career in professional soccer who was extradited to Libya from Niger in early March, did not appear in court because prosecutors said the investigation against him was unfinished.

Gadhafi's more prominent son, Saif al-Islam, remains in the custody of the powerful Zintan tribe in southwest Libya who have refused to hand him over to the central government, saying they believe it cannot provide a secure trial. Saif was only expected to appear via video-link.

The trial began a day after interim prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned following an attack on his family and the ousting of his predecessor barely a month ago.

Proceedings were adjourned until April 27 to give investigators more time to prepare their cases and organize videolinks with the Gadhafi brothers and six defendants in Misrata who could not be taken to Tripoli due to a lack of security en route.

Legal Concerns

Post-Gadhafi Libya has so far been defined by a weak interim government and growing unrest, with former revolutionary fighters refusing to give up their weapons, and armed protesters blockading crucial oil exports.

Addressing the four judges, many defendants complained they had not been given access to lawyers or only saw them at court appearances. Reuters counted only nine lawyers, far fewer than the 25 defendants present.

"I want to be treated like other prisoners. I want visiting rights. I don't have a lawyer. It's not fair," said Senussi, who has been in prison for over a year.

Prosecutors said Senussi had been allowed to see relatives, but denied lawyers had been prevented from assisting clients.

Senussi was joined in the dock by Gadhafi-era prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi and ex-intelligence chief Buzeid Dorda.

Sidiq Al-Sour, head of investigations for the prosecutor's office, said there were 36 ex-officials on trial. Four defendants had already been released, but not acquitted, and another was sick and unable to attend.

"This case has been riddled with procedural flaws right from the beginning, which have made it grossly unfair to the defendants," Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Defense lawyers have been frustrated by delayed and constrained access to the thousands of pages of evidence. Human Rights Watch also said prisoners had no lawyers present during interrogations.

Prosecutors said they only allowed lawyers to view the evidence in their offices to avoid its release to the public.

Libya's justice minister insisted the trial was open to the public and this would ensure the process was fair and not turn into a "Mickey Mouse" show trial.

"I will not allow any crazy stuff, I will make sure it meets international standards ... that is why we are having open trials," Salah al-Merghani told Reuters.

"We heard there were complaints from the lawyers ... The court will see if the complaints are genuine or not."

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs